Kelly Tshibaka, an Alaska Senate nominee, claims that Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski betrayed her home state by opposing former President Donald Trump.
Tshibaka told the Washington Examiner that President Joe Biden made it clear that he wanted to close the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and despite recognizing how vital the oil fields are to the state, Murkowski supported his reelection campaign by opposing Trump.
“She picked a needless fight with Donald Trump. His policies were really good for Alaska. He opened up oil and gas jobs for us. He reduced taxes for us. He supported our military. We have a strong military presence up here, and he rebuilt the military, and her impeachment vote made a lot of people angry in Alaska,” Tshibaka stated.
Tshibaka referred to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Haaland, a former Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico, has frequently criticized Arctic drilling. Tshibaka questioned why Murkowski, a former member of the committee, had not pressed her on her state’s oil leases.
“She didn’t ask her a single question about what her position was on the future of the oil leases and permits, and that really is determinative of what our future for oil and gas jobs are going to be. Biden has already signaled that he intends to shut down oil and gas development in Alaska,” Tshibaka said.
Tshibaka’s background is linked to the oil and gas industry’s financial interest in her province. The Harvard-educated lawyer came from a blue-collar family and spent 18 years in the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s Office in Washington.
“My parents moved up to Alaska when our state was really prosperous. They came up looking for more opportunity. My dad was a union electrician, and he served in Vietnam. And my mom was one of the Alaskans who helped the Prudhoe Bay startup,” Tshibaka said.
The Prudhoe Bay oil field has been producing for over 40 years on Alaska’s North Slope. It is regarded as one of the country’s largest oil fields.
“But she came up before there was a pipeline, and life was hard for them. At times, they were homeless for a while, but they fought their way into the middle class, and they taught me how to work for everything I’ve got. I got to be the first in my family to pursue a college degree and went off to college, went off to law school,” Tshibaka said. “I wanted to come back home, and I had an opportunity to, but Alaska has really declined since I was born and raised here.”
She continued: “It’s just not the same state. In the last 20 years or so, we’ve been really short on opportunity, and that’s the same amount of time Lisa Murkowski has been in the Senate,” the Examiner reports.
Murkowski, 63, is up for reelection in 2022, and Tshibaka seems to be a more vocal Republican opponent this time around. Murkowski was found to be behind Tshibaka by double digits in a poll released last week. The poll also revealed that the incumbent’s unfavorable rating among Republican voters is skyrocketing.
“There was a series of votes that happened just in the last couple of months, and that culminated in the Alaska Republican Party saying she’s not allowed to call herself a Republican inside Alaska anymore. They issued a formal censure,” Tshibaka stated. “They said they’re looking for another candidate to take her on.”
In 2020, Murkowski opposed Trump’s nomination of a replacement to fill the Supreme Court’s vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Recently, she bucked her party by announcing she’d back Rep. Deb Haaland’s (D-N.M.) nomination to serve as Interior secretary.
Murkowski’s popularity among grassroots conservatives has waned after her father appointed her to his Senate seat in December 2002. She has been a top GOP wild card in significant votes and a longtime critic of Trump. She opposed placing limits on abortion, refused to support Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Despite winning three Senate elections, none of them were by a large margin. Murkowski’s most difficult reelection bid to date occurred in 2010 when she ran a competitive write-in campaign for the Senate seat in the general election. However, the reelection period in 2022 will be different from previous cycles. Alaskans opted to hold an all-party primary, also known as a “jungle primary,” followed by a ranked-choice ballot in the general election.